One of the best parts of my recent move has been unpacking the multiple boxes of cookbooks that I sealed up and put into storage before leaving for Germany. At the time I thought I was putting my “second tier” books into storage — my favorite 15 or so I shipped to Germany — but much to my delight, in every box I have found at least 2 or 3 that I have pulled out and thought, “what a great cookbook! I really missed having this!”
All About Braising by Molly Stevens certainly falls into this category. I can’t remember why I didn’t take it with me in the first place, but I’m guessing it has to do with the fact that I had never made anything from it before moving day. I am quite glad I didn’t take it though, because it means I have it to read now! And what a read it is — in the past week I’ve made two dishes from it (<– I rarely cook from the same cookbook twice in such a short period), and both have been fantastic (the recipe above and Red Pine Chicken if you happen to have your own copy). I also have plans for about 15 more recipes, including Spicy Broccoli Rabe with Arugula, Turkey Thighs with Onions and Buttercup Squash, Sweet Braised Scallions, and Chengdu Pork to name a few.
About this specific recipe, it is really wonderful — not too heavy, rich, earthy, and the oh the cheese! Ms. Stevens suggests using a specific triple-cream cheese, Saint-Marcellin, which I had never heard of before making this. Luckily for me, Whole Foods carries it, and I was able to pick up a perfectly ripe specimen ($7.99 for a 3 oz round). After tasting it, I can see why she recommends it — Saint-Marcellin has a wonderful pungency not typical of the triple-cream cheeses I’ve had in the past. You can’t really smell it, but when you taste it it has a distinct, wonderful stinkiness. It is really worth seeking out, but if you can’t find it any robust triple cream cheese will be fine (though you should avoid the more mild cheeses like Brie — it doesn’t have enough body to stand up to the cabbage).
So, what is the lesson of this post? Revisit some of your old cookbooks! I bet you will be surprised and delighted with what you find!
Savoy Cabbage Gratin with Saint-Marcellin
From All About Braising by Molly Stevens
3 T. butter
1 head savoy cabbage (about 1 1/2 lbs), quartered, cored, and sliced into 1/2 inch wide shreds
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, sliced into 1/2 inch-wide pieces
salt and pepper
1 1/4 c. chicken stock
1 ripe Saint-Marcellin cheese (about 3 oz) (substitute a good triple-cream cheese such as Brillat-Savarin, Saint Andre, Explorateur, etc)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large gratin dish.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and scallions, season with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring ofen until the cabbage is just beginning to brown, 10-12 minutes. Pour in the stock, bring to a steady simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan, and cook for about 2 mintues.
Scrape the cabbage mixture and all its juices into the gratin dish. Cover tightly with foil then place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and contine to cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, another 20 minutes or so.
Cut or tear the cheese into small lumps and scatter across the gratin. Increase oven temperature to 375 and cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted, about 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm as a first course, side dish, or on its own as a light supper. Enjoy!